The ERDF South East Business Boost (SEBB) programme has been a game-changer for businesses across East Sussex, and it has been announced that 100 businesses have benefited from the scheme since it was launched in September 2017.

Offering local companies between £1000 and £10,000, the aim was to encourage business growth for start-ups and established businesses, and is provided in partnership with East Sussex County Council, funded by The European Union’s Regional Development Fund. Local businesses in the county have been awarded more than 850,000 for new equipment, technology or systems to expand premises, matched by investment from businesses themselves of £1.5 million. In a bid to boost the local economy, the funding will to create over 40 new jobs across East Sussex.

The honour of receiving the SEBB grant was awarded to Lewes-based Star Pottery. Founded by Mohamed Hamid, a potter for 35 years, he became restricted on his capacity to take on new students due to a need for newer and more efficient equipment. Funding from the SEBB grant allowed Mohamed to purchase a brand-new kiln for his popular pottery lessons, as well as manufacture a higher volume of products to expand his range of hand-decorated tableware.

Mohamed said: “Without the funding provided, we couldn’t have made this investment. The whole process was easy, and the staff were extremely helpful with every step of the application process. The new kiln will keep the workshop open to the community for another 20 years!”

Mohamed Hamid, Star Pottery

Another company that has benefited from the scheme includes Eastbourne-based law firm SO Legal. Providing services in property, commercial and business law, the founder, Hamed Ovaisi got in touch with Business East Sussex to support the purchase of IT systems, software, furniture and TV screens for conferences.

Following the SEBB funding, the business has been able to take on two new members of staff, in a bid to increase services and meet projected growth. Speaking to Hamed about the impact the SEBB grant has had on his business, he said “with the new equipment and staff members, we have been able to host free seminars in our offices for local businesses, individuals and charity groups to make use of our new facilities.”

Other examples of businesses that have received the SEBB grant include The Pished Fish in Berwick, blackShed Gallery in Robertsbridge, Lewes-based Inglis Hall and Johnson Bespoke in Hastings.

Clir Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council lead member for economy, said: “small and medium-sized businesses are the engine of our economy in a largely rural county such as East Sussex.

“This scheme has been very successful in helping businesses to start-up, grow and achieve their potential, creating new employment opportunities and driving economic growth in the process. The wide variety of firms to have benefitted highlights the breadth and diversity of businesses we have in the county, and their innovation, flair and ‘can-do’ attitude is very encouraging to see.”

The Head of Business Services for Business East Sussex, Ian Smallwood, said:

“I am really pleased that over the last 18 months we have been able to help so many of the businesses of East Sussex with grants that have allowed them to invest in their businesses and make things happen for them, just as it has for Mo at the Star Pottery.

The new kiln part funded by the South East business Boost grant increases his capacity and allows him to teach more of the aspiring potters of Lewes and East Sussex, which is great news.”

Although now fully subscribed the South East Business Boost grant programme will put more than £850,000 into the hands of local businesses. Keep an eye on our blog, launching soon, for updates on future funding options from your Growth Hub.

Free business support and advice continues to be available as part of the SEBB programme to local companies and provides a mentor to give businesses guidance in many areas, from financial forecasting and developing a marketing strategy to sales and customer service.

Get in touch today to find out more about the services available to help your business thrive, regardless of industry or business size, we’re here to help.